Spider plants are promoted as easy to care for plants. However, they too have their issues, and if your spider plant has brown tips, it is usually the first sign of trouble.
If you are starting to notice brown tips on your spider plant, it is important to find the root cause (and there are many possibilities) and fix the issue before it is too late. Chances are the issue is relatively harmless, but there is also a chance your plant is really struggling and will die if the cause isn’t found and fixed.
If you have ideal conditions in your home for this plant, then caring for spider plant really is hassle-free, and they are one of the most forgiving and happy plants.
However, if the conditions are off, the plant can be fussy – so disregard all people saying spider plants are impossible to kill as this is far from the truth.
Not all homes have the same humidity levels, temperatures, and light, so you shouldn’t assume you are any worse in plant care than someone who already has ideal conditions in their home. It just means you will need to adjust the care for your spider plant to thrive.
Also, keep in mind there are different spider plant varieties out there, some easier to care for than others.
So, Why Does my Spider Plant Have Brown Tips?
Many things can cause the browning of tips on spider plants, and you will have to look at the bigger picture to pinpoint the cause for your plant.
We’ll guide you through all the possible causes, how to determine if it’s the correct cause and what you can do to stop the browning of tips on your spider plant.
Most common causes
- Overwatering / root root
- Low humidity
- Chemical burn from tap water
- Sun exposure
- To little light
- temperature too low
It might seem a little bit confusing to see both under-watering and overwatering, low light and bright light as causes – but all these can cause brown tips in spider plants. The difference is usually, not always, easy to spot – not on the plant itself but by how you care for it and where you have your plant.
Overwatering – A Serious Cause for Brown Ti
Improper watering is the number one cause of your plant’s suffering. You can both underwater than and overwater them, overwatering usually being more deadly of the two.
Learning to correctly water your spider plant will fix this issue.
When you purchased your plant, it most likely came with a tag with care instructions on it. More often than not, the tag states you should water your spider plant once a week. While this might apply to some homes, it is usually not the case if you want your plant to thrive.
Watering your plant too often, with too much water staying in the pot (not letting the excess water run out of drainage holes), will cause the tips of the spider plant to turn brown, the leaves will start to go yellow – starting at the tip and if not acted upon, the plant will die.
Spider plants like their soil dry between watering. You will do them less harm if you forget to water them here and there instead of overwatering them. Let the soil dry before watering again.
When it is time to water, you can soak the soil thoroughly. Just make sure that all the excess water runs out the drainage holes – if the water sits at the bottom of the pot, you are overwatering. You can water the plant in the sink and let the water run out.
Suppose the soil of your spider plant is constantly moist, or even worse, wet. You can be almost certain you are overwatering.
How to fix this?
If the soil is moist and the issue hasn’t gone too far, move the plant to a warmer, brighter area and let the soil dry. You can even stick a tampon or a few in the soil to help suck out the water. Prune the damaged leaves and adjust your watering routine.
If the soil is saturated (wet), the clock is ticking. The soil probably won’t dry fast enough to save your plant, so your best option here is to repot the plant into fresh soil. Check the roots for root rot and cut away any roots that seem rotten (black and soggy, can have a foul decaying smell).
The spider plant on the picture above has severe browning of tips – you can already see the leaves starting to go yellow beyond the brown. This one was severely over-watered, and a good portion of the plant was beyond rescue, and the leaves died off in a matter of days.
If you neglect your plant and let the soil stay dry for too long, the leaves will start to brown at their tips. The tips will be dry and crisp, but the leaves shouldn’t be turning yellow in the same manner as with overwatering.
If you often leave your soil “dirt dry” under watering is the likely culprit.
Adjust your watering routine. Water more frequently but still let the soil dry between waterings. You don’t want to fix one issue (underwatering) just to cause another (overwatering).
If the soil has dried so much that it is clumped together, cracked, and isn’t touching the pot anymore, you will need to thoroughly soak it to loosen the soil up. Fill a sink (or a pot/dish large enough to put the plant pot in) in with water and submerge the pot with your plant (almost to the top of the pot). Let it sit for about an hour. If the soil is extra hard, you can poke it with a fork or a toothpick to loosen it up a bit.
Take it out of the water and let the excess water drain out. Repeat if the soil hasn’t loosened up.
Air Humidity to Low
This is one of the less serious causes and the issue will mostly be just aesthetic.
Spider plants prefer higher humidity. However, they will grow well in areas with lower humidity too. If the humidity is low, the plant’s tips will dry and become brown, but the plant should still be healthy.
Measure the air humidity in the room, and if it is well below 50% and your plant is otherwise healthy (you see new leaves growing, leaves aren’t dropping, and only the ends are dry here and there), it is likely the brown tips on your plant are a result of low air humidity.
There are many ways you can increase the humidity around your plants, so if you want to prevent brown tips on the new leaves of your spider plant, make sure you increase the humidity in the room.
Note: air humidity in winter is usually lower than in other times of the year.
The plant in the image above is healthy, and it’s even pushing out baby spiders. However, due to lower air humidity in winter, the tips on some leaves have turned brown. As the plant is otherwise healthy, the issue shouldn’t progress much.
Chemical burns from tap water can cause brown tips.
If your tap water is heavy in minerals, salts, or chlorine, your plants, spider plants included, will hate that, and it will show on their foliage.
While tap water most likely won’t kill your plants, the mineral buildup in the soil will harm them a little – and this will show by the leaf tips and edges turning brown.
Using rainwater or filtered water is one option if your tap water is just too harsh on your plants. More often than not, tap water is OK. However, it is best to leave it to sit for 24 hours before watering – this will give it a chance to de-chlorinate as well as reach room temperature, which your plants will prefer.
Using Fertilizer to Often
Similar to water that is heavy on minerals, the fertilizer will have the same effect if you use it too often. The salts will build up in the soil, and the plant will begin to suffer.
Overfertilization can harm both the leaves and roots, so be extra careful not to use fertilizer too often.
If you suspect this was the issue, you can either – wash out the soil with distilled water – water the plant, and let the water run through the drainage holes (stop if you see soil running out). You can also opt for re-potting the plant into fresh soil.
Spider plants like bright indirect light. While they will tolerate limited direct light (some might even prefer it), exposure to strong sunlight will burn the plant’s leaves. The brown tips usually being the first sign.
If your plant gets strong afternoon sun, especially in summer, this is most likely the reason why your spider plant has brown tips.
Direct sun will also make the soil dry up faster which might mess with your watering routine.
Too Little Light
Spider plants don’t need much light to grow, however if they aren’t getting their minium, the plant will begin to struggle.
This will first show as stunned growth and browning of tips. As time goes by, if you won’t move the plant into a lighter area the leaves will start dropping, turning yellow and slowly dying off.
If you don’t have a light enough spot consider getting grow lights.
Like all houseplants, spider plants, too, can be victims of pests. Checking for pests should be your top priority when you notice brown tips or any other issue.
Spider mites, ironically, are one of the more common causes for issues, and they can be quite hard to spot. Check under the leaves with a magnifying glass, and if you see tiny spots moving, along with some webbing, you can be sure you have spider mites.
Fungus gnats can be an issue too, their larvae will attach the roots and your plant will suffer.
We have handy articles that will help you with dealing with these two pests:
Temperature Too Low
Your spider plant is a pretty tolerant one when it comes to temperatures, but let the temperatures drop too low, your plant will suffer. This is usually only an issue for plants that are left outdoors – you should bring the plant inside when the temperatures are too low.
If your windows aren’t well isolated, also keep the plant away from windows in winter time.
Maintain average room temperature for your plant.
Can brown tips on spider plant turn green again?
Sadly once the tip has turned brown, there is no going back. That part of the plant is dead forever.
Can you cut the brown tips off your spider plant?
If the brown tips bother you, yes, you can cut them away. If you dealt with the issue that was causing your spider plant to have brown tips, the browning should stop.
The tip, however, won’t grow back, so keep that in mind. If the issues weren’t dealt with, the browning would continue.
How to Prevent Brown Tips on Spider Plant?
So now you know the cause for the brown tips on your spider plant, it’s time to make sure they never return.
Keep the plants happy by learning all there is to know about their care and maintain ideal growing conditions.
Maintain a proper watering routine, good temperature, lighting, and air humidity, and your plant should be happy and thriving.